no mind's eye

real stories on Cebu's business landscape…

Moving Out

I will miss this blog. Terribly. I spent more or less two years getting this to work and I am overwhelmed that I recorded more than 200 comments through my write-ups that saw print in Sun.Star Cebu. But now, as I celebrate my first year anniversary in my new job in a non-profit organization as a development worker, I will have to stop blogging here and move on to a new area. I am no longer a reporter so I have no more business news to post here to keep this blog sustainable. What I’ve got is my love for writing. And this is shown through my new blog. Click here.

Thank you for all your support. See you there!

Filed under: Unliquidated Thoughts

Portal to push tourism

(Published in Dec. 1, 2009 issue of Sun.Star Cebu)

Sun.Star Cebu <> Monday, Dec. 1, 2009

BY Nancy R. Cudis, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

* * *

TO GET more Cebu companies to advertise their businesses on the Internet, an online classified service portal will intensify its efforts to promote Cebu as a major tourist destination.

Starting this month, 88DB.com will showcase an improved online page about Cebu, featuring the 4,000 advertisers coming from the province.

These businesses that advertised through 88DB.com’s free media portal are composed of large companies, small and medium enterprises, and home-based businesses.

These include hotels, resorts, business services firms, wedding industry players, restaurants, real estate companies, and schools, among others.

Growing

“We want to grow the present number of Cebu advertisers we have to 20,000 toward the end of 2010. We believe Cebu is growing, so we have to be here,” 88DB.com general manager Racquel Cagurangan told Sun.Star Cebu.

“We aim to enlist more tourism-related establishments, entrepreneurs and freelancers in the site and help them advertise their products and services both to the local and foreign tourists,” she added.

88DB.com, launched in the Philippines last August 2006, has more than 200,000 members, over two million page views monthly, and more than 26,000 site visits daily, she said.

According to its website, 88DB is the newest service developed by JobsDB.com, a jobsite in Asia Pacific.

“88DB extends JobsDB’s service to a new level by creating a classified site for organizations, companies, individuals, clubs, societies and associations to promote and hire services of various kinds,” the website said.

Bloggers

To signal its commitment to promote Cebu as one of the country’s premier hubs, 88DB.com inked last week a partnership with the Cebu Bloggers Society (CBS), a non-profit network of more than 60 bloggers.

CBS also sealed a partnership with JobsDB Philippines Inc., the Philippine arm of the career portal in Asia with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, among others.

“The Cebu workforce has consistently attracted the attention of employers because of their work ethic, resourcefulness and passion for excellence. JobsDB’s page on Cebu that touched on its industries and human resources was created a year ago to support Cebu’s growth. Our new partnership with CBS, which will increase awareness of job opportunities for Cebuanos, builds on that strategy,” said JobsDB Philippines marketing manager Jane Christine Soco.

Career page

Through the partnership, JobsDB will create a career page for the CBS website, linking it to more than 6,000 jobs that appear on the JobsDB Home Page every day. CBS members will be the first to spot new job openings as soon as they are uploaded; they will discuss them in their posts and spread the word to interested parties.

Soco said they expect more job openings next year, as companies are now starting to recover from the effects of the global financial crisis.

Going up

In the middle of this year, JobsDB Philippines noted a decline in the number of jobs posted. But the numbers have been going up again in the last quarter of this year.

The number of resumes submitted has also increased, said Soco.

JobsDB is now planning to reach out to more students and job seekers, and to provide a facelift to its website. It also intends to provide value-added services like announcements of job opening through mobile phones.

Filed under: Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Retail, Small and Medium Enterprises, Tourism, , , ,

DOT develops programs to lure Indians travelers

Sun.Star Cebu <> Friday, July 10, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) wants more Indian travelers to come to the Philippines for leisure and entertainment.

India, with a population of more than one billion and a growing middle class, is considered an emerging tourist market for the country. As of now, most Indians who travel do so for business.

The DOT believes the Philippines can offer more “variety” to the Indians—most of whom are seasoned
travelers—compared to other countries in Asia. The tourism department pointed out that the Philippines has several destinations for shopping, island-hopping and culinary activities, among others.

Glen Agustin, DOT team head for India, told reporters during the recent Philippine International Tourism Fair in Cebu that the tourism department wants to attract more Indians and their families to come and spend on recreational activities in the Philippines.

The DOT eyes Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) participants who want to get involve in leisure activities during and after their business agenda, he said.

However, Anoop Ka-nuga of India-based tour operator Bathija Travels Pvt. Ltd. lamented the lack of direct flights between India and the Philippines.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said the DOT’s efforts to convince Philippines Airlines (PAL) to fly to India is “getting there.” The DOT is hoping that the flag carrier will use one of its new aircraft that will be delivered in the third quarter of this year to serve India.

He said PAL assigned a general service agent in India last year. He described this as a “good step” in getting additional direct flights between the two countries this year.

Agustin advised tourism establishments targeting the Indian market to work with tour operators and be included in tour packages as the Indians have dietary requirements and want to be regularly updated on new products.

He also suggested to Philippine tour operators to find counterparts in India.

The DOT has lined up a series of media promotions that have been “effective” in drawing in more Indians to the Philippines.

The DOT notes that Indians travelers stay for an average of seven days, spending time in Manila before going to other tourist destinations in the country like Cebu, Bohol and Boracay.

Filed under: Business, Tourism

Industry players foresee sustained demand for tiles

Sun.Star Cebu <> Thursday, July 9, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

RESPONDING to customers’ clamor for housing solutions, Cebu Oversea Hardware Co. Inc. inked a pact with Malaysia-based tile manufacturing company White Horse Malaysia last week to distribute the latter’s products in the Philippines.

“The demand for tiles in the local market will always be there because houses are being built. It is just a matter of buying the cheapest, the mid-range or the expensive one. The purpose of distributing White Horse is to offer the public European quality products at affordable prices,” said Michael Co, chief executive officer of Cebu Home and Builders Centre.

Cebu Oversea Hardware owns and operates Cebu Home and Builders Centre, a one-stop shop of building materials. It also owns and manages other furnishing and finishing stores, including Expo Tile and Bath and Home Improvement Center, Living ‘n Style, The Home Depot, and Better Living Tile and Bath Center.

Cebu Oversea Hardware will be the sole Philippine distributor of White Horse Malaysia tiles.

Cebu Home and Builders Centre general manager James Co added that the company is also trying to create a demand for White Horse tiles among home builders and
home- owners by providing virtual solutions.

Virtual showroom

In collaboration with Cebu Oversea Hardware, White Horse is setting up a “virtual showroom” showcasing panels of tile samples and the “Just Click” computer software that will allow customers to see different design concepts of tile samples.

The virtual showroom, equipped with a design program called “I-Designer,” will also enable customers to design their rooms on the computer and have them printed out on the spot.

Lawrence Lim, White Horse Malaysia regional manager for overseas branches, said the exclusive value-added service is available at no extra cost to the customer.

This virtual showroom will be set up at The Home Depot outlets in Metro Manila and at the Expo Tile and Bath and Home Improvement Center in Parkmall, Mandaue City.

White Horse products will also be available in these stores and other stores under Cebu Oversea Hardware. They will be distributed to key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.

White Horse plants in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam produce a combined 60 million square meters of tiles per annum.

It plans to put up a new manufacturing plant in the Asia-Pacific to meet the growing demand for tiles. The Philippines, with its growing population and high preference for quality products, is being considered as a potential site for White Horse’s manufacturing operations.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Export Sector, Real Estate, Retail

Road map for ESL industry

Sun.Star Cebu <> Thursday, July 9, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

IN a bid to make Cebu an international hub for English language learning, private and public stakeholders will develop and implement a “road map” to bolster the interest of potential international students to learn English in Cebu.

The road map, which is part of the Cebu Hub of English Language Excellence Project, will bring together individuals and key people from the Provincial Government, local government units, the academe and government agencies like the Department of Tourism and Department of Education. In a meeting next month, they will identify Cebu’s strengths and discuss issues hounding the English learning and teaching sector.

“There is a (global) shift now; more and more international students (turn) to speakers of English as a second language, like the Filipinos, for English training (instead of hiring) Americans, Canadians, and other nationalities who primarily speak English,” said Paul Robertson, Asian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) Journal chief executive officer.

One factor for this shift, he said, is the huge influx of Korean tourists in the Philippines. He added that these tourists come to the country to immerse in “long and intense” training on English.

But he observed that the Philippines, particularly Cebu, is not yet ready for the “sudden, massive” demand for Filipino ESL (English as a second language) or Tesol (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers due to the lack of organization and regulation in the industry, as well as the shortage of affordable teachers’ training courses in ESL or Tesol.

Best practices

“If we don’t start the project now, other countries will do it, like India and China,” warned Robertson.

The road mapping for the project will consider the best practices of the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-it) in organizing the IT players in Cebu sd Cebu positions itself to be an IT hub.

Once Cebu has established itself as a global hub for English learning, Robertson said it would be easy for local stakeholders to get more international students from the Middle East, Japan, China, and Taiwan.

“Cebu should not concentrate its English learning and teaching facilities on Korean students but also on other nationalities, especially the Chinese,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

Robertson said he will propose during the meeting with local stakeholders the possibility of attracting more foreign investors to consider Cebu as a potential area for ESL schools that can be operated by local staff and teachers.

“They can even make their schools exclusive for the people of their countries. With more investors putting up more schools for ESL, more schools would also be specializing in specific areas such as business English and tourism English to attract students,” Robertson said.

Several potential investors, he said, are coming to Cebu on Aug. 8 to attend the Cebu International Tesol Conference at Diplomat Hotel, Cebu City.

About 300 persons, including English teachers and educators-to-be, are expected to attend the conference that is organized by the Tesol Philippines, Asian EFL Group, and Time Taylor International Ltd.

Asian EFL Journal is an academic second language acquisition research journal and business entity under Time Taylor, an Australian company registered in Korea.

Filed under: Business, Education, Employment, Tourism

Wholesaler opens retail store for home finishing, furnishing

Sun.Star Cebu <> Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A WHOLESALE distributor of home furnishing and finishing products in the Visayas and Mindanao has put up a new store in Highway Maguikay, Mandaue City to cater to the growing construction industry in Cebu.

Home Options Inc. will formally open today Savers Home Depot, a 2,100-square-meter retail store that displays various home products, including tiles, lighting, water faucets and vanities.

“As the company grows, we see big opportunities in Cebu where the construction business is growing,” Home Options Inc. president Kendrick Sulay told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said the company invested around P20 million on the store, including its stocks.

There are plans to put up more Savers Home Depot stores in the northern part of Cebu.

“The south, where there is a very big market, is already congested, and there are many competitors located there.

The market for construction in the north, on the other hand, is growing,” Sulay said.

He remains optimistic amid the global financial crisis that is affecting consumer spending, saying the market is still very big and there is still room for more suppliers and distributors.

Apart from plans of expanding to the north, Savers Home Depot will also partner with developers and homeowners associations.

Savers Home Depot, Sulay said, is being positioned to target classes B and C and “a little of class A.”

The store’s “boutique” layout was created to attract more customers and give them home design ideas.

“When a customer comes in, he will immediately see our products, like lights and furnishings imported from China and Malaysia, among others,” Sulay said.

Another part of the store is the Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y) section that Sulay plans to expand, depending on the market response.

Savers Home Depot soft-opened last June 20. Its mother company, Home Options Inc., started in March 2005 and continues to distribute home-related products on a wholesale basis outside Cebu.

Filed under: Business, Construction/Building, Real Estate, Retail, Small and Medium Enterprises

Retailers told to give convenience, out-of-ordinary experience to buyers

Sun.Star Cebu <> Tuesday, July 7, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

THESE days, shopping is no longer about the stores but about stories and experiences, said global marketing and advertising firm JWT.

JWT Manila chief executive officer Jos Ortega urged retailers to let their customers experience beyond the ordinary.

He cited several examples, including Apple that provided units that customers can try.

“(But) first, you must know your brand story. And be authentic.

Customers won’t be fooled. If they are, they won’t visit you again. Engage your clients and deliver your message,” Ortega said.

He urged retailers to strengthen their front lines since the employees are crucial in carrying out the store’s brand story.

Ortega was in Cebu for the 3rd Cebu Regional Retail Conference where he spoke about design techniques for the retail sector.

In the same event, Marge Martinez, The Nielsen Company (Philippines) Inc. associate director for retailer services, advised retailers to make a good and lasting impression on both regular and new shoppers.

“The struggling economy has a significant impact on how and where people shop. Now is not the time to cut corners on factors that will negatively impact shopping experience. Treat every shopper like it’s their first time in your store,” said Martinez.

The Nielsen Company (Philippines) Inc. has found that several retailers across the world are innovating by putting up in-store clinics, and stressing health and wellness messaging in store layouts, product assortment and advertising.

Martinez also pointed out that shoppers, who want convenience, are calling for malls to offer everything under one roof and for retailers to continuously replenish their products.

She noted that in response, commercial malls are expanding; community malls are combining supermarket, gym and health center and boutiques in their premises;
bakeries are putting up seats within their areas to encourage shoppers to eat; and convenience stores are offering more than just groceries.

She also observed that regional supermarkets are understanding local needs and creating modern wet markets while traditional store owners are upgrading their stores to become independent mini-marts or groceries.

“Some big players are going to smaller store formats in order to grow faster in the race for good locations and reach more consumers,” Martinez said.

Filed under: Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Retail, Small and Medium Enterprises

WELCOME!

This is a personal site that contains my news articles on Cebu, local tourism, investments, real estate, small and medium enterprises, and many more! Some entries tackle personal thoughts and experiences as a business writer covering the Cebu business community. Enjoy your time here. And I hope to hear from you! -NANCY R. CUDIS

NRC: a Cebuano scribe


NANCY R. CUDIS writes for herself (a pastime), for her family (a source of income), and for the Cebu community (a sense of duty). For inquiries or invitations to cover events related to Cebu, you may contact her through her e-mail: nrcudis@gmail.com.

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